Who is Sadiq Khan, face of diversity and first to win the mayoralty of London three times?

Who is Sadiq Khan, face of diversity and first to win the mayoralty of London three times?
Who is Sadiq Khan, face of diversity and first to win the mayoralty of London three times?

From the face of diversity to that of continuity: Sadiq Khan is now in a very good place in the history of London. Labor on Saturday became the first elected official to win the mayoralty of the British capital for a third term.

The 53-year-old elected official, son of Pakistani immigrants, won the town hall for the first time in 2016. He then became the first Muslim to lead a Western capital. With this third mandate, won largely with 43.8% of the votes against his conservative opponent Susan Hall (32.7%), he beats in terms of longevity his predecessor, the conservative Boris Johnson, elected twice as mayor of London.

Promise of a “fairer, safer, greener” city

In his speech just after the announcement of the results, he said he was “honoured” and “proud” and said he hoped that this year would be of “big change” with “a future Labor government”. For his first term, he vigorously fought Brexit. This time, he promised a city that was “fairer, safer, greener for everyone.”

He wants to expand his free lunch program for public school children. He, who grew up in social housing, is committed to ensuring that 40,000 new social housing units are built. He promised to take action to ensure that there would be no more homeless people in London by 2030.

In the political class, Sadiq Khan has become the bête noire of the conservative press and the “Tories”, in power in the Kingdom since 2010. They relentlessly attack him on security. They accuse him of being responsible for the increase in stabbing attacks, a scourge that the mayor attributes for his part to the austerity policy of conservative governments which would have led to a reduction in police numbers.

Attacks that sometimes get out of hand

His opponents also criticize him for having extended last year to greater London the tax on polluting vehicles, introduced in 2015 by Boris Johnson. The Conservatives jumped at the opportunity, accusing him of having little regard for Londoners suffering from the cost of living crisis.

The attacks against him sometimes get out of hand. Former Tory Deputy Prime Minister Lee Anderson asserted in February that the Islamists had “taken control” of Sadiq Khan. “He gave our capital to his cronies,” said the MP, who has since joined the far-right Reform UK party.

The mayor embodies one of the success stories that London, a world city proud of its diversity, where 46% of residents identify as Asian, black, mixed or “other”, likes. He never misses an opportunity to reflect on his humble origins and readily talks about the fact that he observes the Ramadan fast, does not drink alcohol and tries to say his prayers every day.

A childhood in a working-class neighborhood

Born on October 8, 1970 into a Pakistani family who had recently immigrated to the United Kingdom, he grew up on a social housing estate in Tooting, a working-class area of ​​south London, with six brothers and a sister. He attended the local public high school, not exactly famous, and the University of North London. One of his teachers noticed his gift for oratorical jousts and directed him towards law studies.

At 15, he joined the Labor Party when Margaret Thatcher was in power. In 2005, he abandoned his career as a lawyer specializing in human rights to get elected as a deputy. Three years later, Gordon Brown offered him the post of Minister for Communities, then that of Transport the following year. He becomes the first Muslim to sit in the cabinet of a British Prime Minister. And when Buckingham Palace asked him which Bible he wanted to swear on, he offered to bring his Koran. Sadiq Khan left his copy at the palace, hoping that it will be useful “for the next one”.

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